The international association of listed private equity companies, LPEQ, has big plans. Its leaders aim to create a “community” to persuade investors that listed private equity is a sector worth looking at.
To do this, chief executive Douwe Cosijn and chairman Mark Florman plan to expand its membership to law, accountancy and public relations firms. At the same time, they want the association to look beyond its current European base.
At the moment, the majority of LPEQ's 16 members are listed in the UK. Cosijn and Florman have set the target of doubling that membership in 2017.
“I think that's ambitious, I want to be ambitious, I want to leverage the relationships that we have to deepen the membership base, and I think there's very clear commitment from the members and the board to do so,” Cosijn tells PEI. “If you look at the universe of potential members, it's well in excess of 100 members in the listed space, albeit in a whole range of different forms.”
Florman adds that the aim was for the organisation “to represent all of the listed private equity funds within Europe, but also to look beyond Europe” to the US, Asia and the emerging markets.
“Our hope is that LPEQ will grow quite substantially,” says Florman, explaining the plan to bring in members in other fields alongside private equity firms. “Then we create a community, and that community helps itself and each other to present why investors should look at listed private equity.”
Florman, who replaced Graphite Capital finance director Tim Spence as chair in September, is the first to be appointed from outside LPEQ's membership, and its first paid appointment. Cosijn describes this as an indication of the board's and the membership's ambition to take LPEQ “to a new level”.
LPEQ wants to bring private equity to “millions of people” by educating smaller investors and families on how they can participate in private equity through the listed space, Florman says.
“With uncertainty, with markets which both fall and rise, private equity comes into its own. And I can't see why smaller investors, individual investors in particular, should be excluded from this.”
Sophisticated, public institutional investors are increasingly interested in private equity as they realise “access to private companies that are being managed for growth, performance and returns is something that is extremely complementary to the more passive engagement with the public markets through public equities”, Cosijn adds.
“The key is just to focus LPEQ on engaging actively across the existing membership, grow the substance of the organisation, make it the most attractive organisation that it can possibly be, that people want to be a member of and can absolutely see the value of being a member of,” he says.
“It is about the knowledge sharing, the interaction. That creates a dynamic ecosystem whereby people will actually want to engage.”